ISU on the road againas team faces Missouri

Jeff Stell

The ISU football team gets back on the road, hoping to put last week’s disastrous trip to Lincoln behind them, traveling to Columbia to take on rival Missouri.

The Cyclones are stinging from a 48-14 thrashing at the hands of the Huskers that gave them their first loss of the season. The coaching staff and players have used the entire week to stomach the defeat and get ready for a streaky Tiger team.

“We had an extremely tough weekend at Lincoln and we put it behind us,” ISU head coach Dan McCarney said. “We learned some tough lessons over there and we evaluated the tape. We have to move on because we have a lot of big games left, none bigger than this weekend.”

The Tigers are coming off a 41-38 triple overtime victory at Oklahoma State. The Tigers are 2-2 with losses to fourth-ranked Nebraska and Bowling Green.

In the victory, Tiger receiver Justin Gage hauled in a career-high 12 catches and quarterback Kirk Farmer was 20-for-33 for 247 yards and three touchdowns.

“Missouri presents a great challenge,” McCarney said. “They’ve improved in every phase since the Bowling Green game. Gage made some NFL catches in Stillwater.”

Last season, the Cyclones lost three games but bounced back to win the following week each time. Included in that streak was a 39-20 victory over the Tigers, a week after getting whipped 30-7 by Texas A&M.

Both teams are eyeing postseason play this year and know Saturday’s contest is critical.

“It’s a huge game,” first-year Tiger coach Gary Pinkel said. “[ISU is] an excellent football team. Last year, they went to a bowl and they’ve done an excellent job building that program.”

The Cyclone offense was on fire through the first three games but hit a wall in the form of the Husker defense.

The Cyclone offense ranks second in the Big 12 in total offense; quarterback Seneca Wallace ranks second in total offense and passing efficiency.

Tailback Ennis Haywood was second in the nation in rushing after two games, but he has failed to break the 100-yard mark in the previous two games.

Haywood ran wild on the Tiger defense for 214 yards on 33 carries and two touchdowns, on his way to leading the Big 12 in rushing last season.

Despite the recent struggles, Pinkel knows the potential explosiveness of the Cyclone offensive attack.

“From an offensive perspective, they have a lot of firepower,” Pinkel said. “Wallace is just an excellent athlete with great quickness and Haywood is obviously a player that has played in this league and has been very successful.”

Defensively, the numbers show an unbalanced unit as the Cyclones are third in the nation in pass defense and 102nd against the run.

Those numbers can be deceiving as the Cyclones have taken on two option teams.

The Cyclone secondary will get a major challenge from Farmer and the group of Tiger receivers, led by Gage.

McCarney is also worried about how much time Farmer will have to throw behind a solid offensive line.

“This is a great test,” McCarney said.

“I have a lot of respect for Farmer. He was in a zone Saturday at Oklahoma State. They do a great job protecting him; they’ve given up the least sacks in the Big 12.”